A cold glass of lemonade on a hot day in July – is there anything more refreshing? Well, don’t make the frozen drinks for your BBQ just yet – We don’t think your friends will appreciate the secret ingredient of mold in their drinks. The culprit? Ice!
We often don’t think about those frozen cubes in our drinks as anything more than helpful, but ice can spread illness just as easily as other food sources if contaminated by viruses, bacteria and mold. Yes, even the ice in your home refrigerator can be contaminated if your ice machine isn’t properly cleaned.
Residential ice machines should be cleaned regularly – every six months or so – to prevent the spread of illness through ice. Additionally, if your ice begins to look cloudy or smells or tastes a bit off, it’s probably time to clean and sanitize the ice maker. Taking precautions and cleaning your ice machine before you notice signs of something off can better protect against illness, however, which is why we recommend completing this chore often.
Ice should actually be stored and handled with the same carefulness as food, including keeping their environment cleanly. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines ice as food, which means commercial businesses like restaurants are subject to certain fines if their machines aren’t up to code since ice is handled by staff and ingested by customers. Of course, the law doesn’t come into play for your home ice dispenser, but shouldn’t we hold ourselves to similar standards? After all, if the FDA puts value on the cleanliness of ice machines for commercial businesses, it’s clear that our own home dispensers may also be at risk of spreading illness.
Your machine may have specific cleaning methods, meaning you should check with the manufacturer or manual to make sure you’re cleaning properly. However, there are a few general steps you could take to get started. Here are a few helpful guides to sanitize your ice makers: